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4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling real life crime drama, 30 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Iceman [DVD] (DVD)
This movie charts the real life story of contract-killer Richard ''Iceman'' Kuklinski. Although his own personal criminal escapades of murder started years prior, here, it picks up in his life in 1964, Newark USA. Where he is a pornography film lab tech, starting a relationship with his soon to be wife (Ryder), and garnishing interest from local wise guys (Liotta) , the bosses of his establishment, due to his lack of emotion or ice cold appearance in the face of danger, being a good trait for his future line of work. Eventually slowly charting his rise as a Mafia hitman & fall due to events around him, those his killer urges needed quenching & loose ends he needed to cut.

We found the film totally engaging all the way through, the production values, directing & especially the acting was some of the best consistently we have seen in a long while. Micheal Shannon (Man of Steel) epitomized this with his portrayal of Kuklinski, he was mesmerizing to watch in every scene, as an on the surface average guy who is really an emotionless killer. Whose soft spot is the protection of his family at all costs (albeit not from himself), who have no idea what he really does for a living. Having seen him in a few films now, playing odd, quirky characters, he is currently at the top of his game. In support his co-stars seemed to be trying to reach the bar Shannon set, and as a result we see some great & classic performances from Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands), Chris Evans (Captain America), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) , David Schwimmer (Friends ), James Franco (Oz), Stephen Dorff (Immortals) & Robert Davi (The Goonies ).

The story itself is told through key moments of his life, as it gradually skips ahead in time through the 60's, 70's & 80's, which are all excellently authentically recreated in costume, props & cars etc..... While Kuklinksi's childhood is told in flashbacks & a brief meeting with his imprisoned brother Joey (Dorff). Being critical, it did lack some pace here & there as they try to cram as much detail in, no matter how small. And due to the writing & period of his life they did make him a little too easy to sympathize with regarding not killing the young girl & protecting his family from Mafia threats etc... rather then the truly vile & evil person he was. But none the less they certainly made it flow as entertainingly as possible while balancing the facts in, as a whole.

Skimming through his real life story & watching the HBO interview with Kuklinski (Youtube) after seeing the film, it's interesting to compare how the film sync's up with the facts. And albeit misses the mark on a few minor things, such as his 'Iceman' nickname coming from his modus operandi to freeze bodies to disguise they're time of death, rather than his emotionally cold persona, or his first mafia hit on a guy walking his dog rather then a homeless man for example. While in other places the feeding of poison to a cat was a relevant nod to his torturing of animals as a boy, his excessive use of cologne to put under his nose to mask the smell of bodies as he cuts them up, and his wide range of varied weapons & interests in new methods to kill people. But still they portrayed it pretty well overall, appreciating that the films story has to encapsulate a lot in Richard Kuklinski's life & persona in a way to keep us entertained as well.

In conclusion, as true stories go, it's closer to the truth than most achieve. We were glued to the screen throughout this chilling tale, made all the more surreal with it's contrast of horror with nonchalant contract killings/mutilation & loving, unsuspecting family life. Micheal Shannon is outstanding. Recommended.
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Jules
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Location: England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 316